Victoria + David | Antique Glamour Wedding & a Conversion Story.

Victoria and David were a 100% match for religious values on an online dating site. And yet, she was a faithful Catholic who worked for the Church and had spent many years discerning religious life, while he was the minister of a Non-Denominational Evangelical community. Though each wondered if their differences could lead to a successful relationship, they were intrigued by their many similarities, and decided to at least go on a date.

“I thought it would be fascinating to talk about Jesus with a devout, joyful Protestant minister,” says Victoria. “I was right! We had incredible conversations, deep and very spiritually energizing, as one date led to another and another. David's theology seemed very close to Catholicism, and I was surprised how his own study and prayer had led him away from certain doctrines typically associated with Protestantism.

Hesitation took over, however, as their theological differences posed obvious barriers that would make marriage problematic. Victoria and David broke up as the difficulty of how they’d raise future children became increasingly evident.

“We both felt like martyrs,” Victoria says, “laying our growing love for each other at the Lord’s feet in order to be faithful to him.”

She continued to marvel, though, at how wonderfully paired they seemed in every other way. The Lord wasn’t finished working in their relationship.

From the Bride: A short time after our breakup, I contacted David with a high stakes invitation that seemed doomed to fail: perhaps we could date if David earnestly explored the possibility of becoming Catholic.

At first, David rejected the offer as impossible, but later agreed, believing that by seeking the truth we would land on the same page (he was convinced I would become Protestant). He also asked that I pray to see the beauty in Protestant communities. Over the next weeks and months, God did bring us to the same page, and answered both of our prayers!

David’s prayer and study, particularly of the Catechism and the Church Fathers, led him to the decision to enter full communion with the Catholic Church. God had also brought me to see beautiful workings of the Holy Spirit in Protestant communities, and to long even more for the unity of the Church.

We see our marriage as a sort of microcosm of the call to Christian unity. Our relationship is a source of great joy and growth as we are strengthened by the gifts we each bring.

Before meeting, John 17 was a favorite Scripture passage of each of us individually. It contains Christ's prayer to the Father for the unity of all who believe in him: “...that they may be brought to perfection as one…” This passage now has a double meaning for us in marriage as we allow the grace of Christ to make us more perfectly one, as husband and wife. We chose this passage the Gospel reading at our Mass, and David had ut sint consummati in unum engraved in his wedding ring.

David and I are both musicians, so the Nuptial Mass music was a high priority for us. We hired a professional choir and a few instrumentalists. Since David is not accustomed to Latin, we opted to seek out beautiful English settings and pieces. We chose a mixture of motets (including a beautiful Magnificat by Chris Mueller), the Heritage Mass sung in parts, a polyphonic introit, alleluia, and communion antiphon, and several congregational hymns. It turned out gloriously! David and I also made our vows over a crucifix that now hangs in our home.

We’d agreed early in our relationship to save our first kiss on the lips for our wedding day. This decision was always left open to discussion and revisiting if needed, but we continued to discern that we wanted to wait. To be clear, it’s not something we think is necessary for all couples, but it was something we prayerfully determined. Both of us had past relationships in which kissing was permitted, but we now desired to keep this special level of intimacy reserved for a lifelong commitment. We had a very affectionate relationship otherwise, and most people didn’t know this was a choice we had made.

Since some close friends were unable to attend the wedding, we decided to keep our bridal party simple, with one Matron of Honor (my sister) and one Best Man (David's brother). Our beloved nieces and nephews were the flower girls and ring bearers, and one nephew was an altar server.

We wanted the style of the wedding to be floral and antique-inspired, with burgundy, dusty rose, ivory, deep greens, and antique gold. The men’s vests and bow ties were burgundy, with David’s being champagne. My sister wore burgundy and gold.

As for my dress, I’d originally bought a more vintage-looking dress that needed substantial lace additions, but at the last minute, the wrong lace came in and I had to get a back-up dress! My second option was more of a princess style, which I had first avoided, but I couldn’t shake how beautiful I felt in it. By a providential turn of events, I was able to return the first dress and purchase the other for a discounted sample price. It turned out to be lovely and matched our flower girl dresses beautifully.

It was important to us that we honor my mother at the wedding, who passed away 9 years ago. I had a 10th anniversary ring of hers (from the year I was born) made into a cross necklace and into my wedding band. For the bridal procession my uncle (my mom’s brother) processed in holding a rose to represent my mother. At the reception, we also had an “in loving memory” table, and David and I sang a duet in her honor.  

We wanted a reception venue with lots of light that was big enough for a larger number of guests. We found a lovely one, where the owner even had a small chapel on the premises with a crucifix and stained glass window of the Wedding at Cana. For our first dance, we had a friend choreograph a waltz to “Clair de Lune.” Other fun details included a singing flash mob David planned with many of his performer friends. It was a medley from Fiddler on the Roof ("Sunrise, Sunset," "Wonder of Wonders," and "To Life L'chaim")! David and his mother also sang Andrea Bocelli's "The Prayer." It was a joyful and entertaining evening.

I look back and reflect on how beautifully marriage is celebrated by the Church, and how even one couple’s marriage is a special blessing to the whole Body of Christ. I was so moved by the way the Church prayed for us in the prayers of our Nuptial Mass, and simply desiring us to be deep vessels to receive all the graces of the sacrament. We were also touched by how our wedding was a source of joy--not only for us but for our friends, family, and even the priests who celebrated the Mass. We now pray for the grace to live our vocation faithfully and grow continually in love for God and one another.

Photography: Stephanie Messick Photography | Church:  Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Gainesville, VA | Wedding Reception Venue : Morais Vineyards in Bealeton, VA | Day-of wedding coordinator: MayJune events ; Rings and cross necklace: Yas & Co. Jewelers in Fairfax, VA | Flowers: Bella Floral in Front Royal, VA | Catering: Caroline Street Catering in Fredricksburg, VA | Hair and makeup: Yiselle Santos in Bristow, VA | Cakes: Gateau cakes in Warrenton, VA |  DJ: Voss Weddings | Music Conductor/Organist: James Senson from St. John the Beloved in McLean, VA

Kaitlyn + John | Southern New Year's Wedding

A few months before her freshman year at Notre Dame, Kaitlyn’s aunt showed her a newspaper article about a local young man’s involvement with campus ministry on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. On her first day of Philosophy 101 at school, she quickly recognized “the Mississippi kid from the article.” It was John, who, it turned out, had grown up only 20 minutes down the road from where Kaitlyn was born.

Kaitlyn introduced herself on that first day of class, and John sat behind her. Midway through the semester, they began studying and attending daily Mass together. John asked Kaitlyn out, and before they knew it they were falling in love.

From the Bride: Little did we know, while we were busy falling for each other our parents were doing some behind-the-scenes research! My dad called his best friend, a priest who happened to be on a school board with John’s father. When asked about John’s family, Fr. Paddy--who later concelebrated our wedding--replied, “Oh they are cream of the crop!” My dad was sufficiently satisfied, and apparently so was John’s family in their discoveries about me.

Our friendship, and subsequent romantic relationship, was founded on our mutual love of Christ. After Mass, we’d often discuss our faith lives and pray.

I knew from the first time we prayed together that I could trust my heart with such a man. His devotion to the Lord and our Blessed Mother were so clear, and they continue to be.

John asked me to marry him next to the Sacred Heart statue in front of Notre Dame’s famous Dome, as our family watched via webcam and our friends stood nearby.

Our wedding Mass was the main focus of our planning and where we devoted most of our energy. Between getting married close to New Year’s Eve and being ND grads, it was an easy decision to choose gold as a central wedding color. Our colors were inspired by my engagement ring, which belonged to John’s great grandmother and is gold with an aquamarine stone (my birthstone).

We wanted the natural beauty of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where we held the ceremony and reception--including the beach, old Southern oaks, and a nearby lighthouse--to influence the general aesthetic of the day. We incorporated cream and soft blue details to reflect these local features.

My dress and bouquet were influenced by our traditional style and the setting of the gorgeous cathedral where the Mass was celebrated. My sister got married three months before me, and we actually bought our wedding dresses on the same day! We decided to share the veil, so it could be our “something borrowed” and signify the closeness we share.

Our wedding date, December 30th, is often celebrated as the Feast of the Holy Family depending on the liturgical calendar. This seemed incredibly apt, as we want the family we created, starting at our wedding mass, to be an image of the Holy Family, reflecting their love in all we do.

We wanted to find a way to dedicate our marriage to the Holy Family during the Nuptial Mass. We searched for statues and images online to whom we could pray and present flowers during the Mass, but never found exactly what we were looking for. So John came up with the idea of “commissioning” my dad to paint us an icon of the Holy Family, featuring the many devotions we have developed as a couple.

The finished icon includes the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a nod to our engagement location, Saint Joseph, to whom my family has a longtime devotion (my parents met on his feast day, which is also my birthday), and Our Lady, who is particularly precious to John’s parents. We asked for the artwork to depict Joseph with his trademark lilies and Mary with the image found on the Miraculous Medal. At our Mass, my mother handed us a lily to present to Saint Joseph, and John’s mother and father gave us a rose to give to Our Lady and the Holy Family. Inviting our families into these dedications, alongside this image my dad had painted, symbolized a blending together of families and our devotions to create a new family.

The Nuptial Mass was truly grace-filled, with so many friends and family members serving through readings, gift bearing, altar serving, and music. It was especially beautiful seeing how all of this love and grace was only possible through the love of the Holy Family.

Our reception was a wonderful celebration highlighting the many people we are so blessed to have in our lives. It took place at the Biloxi Visitors Center, with a gorgeous view of the gulf and Biloxi lighthouse. A jazz band from New Orleans played many of our favorite songs. John was a section leader in the Notre Dame Band, so many of his fellow band members helped us select jazz pieces for background music. They, along with many of our ND friends, family members, and childhood friends hit the dance floor after a delicious traditional coastal meal of jambalaya and gumbo.

I think we will always treasure our first dance to "Fly Me to the Moon," and the dances we shared with our parents. The band led us in an Anniversary Dance where my grandparents, who celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary this year, won for longest marriage. When asked their advice for a long and happy marriage, my blessed grandfather said something along the lines of, “She’s always right.”

Immediately after John proposed, our friends serenaded us with “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.” I helped John conduct our friends in another rendition of the song, and we finished the night with a second line taking us down the stairs and out to our car, covered in shaving cream courtesy of John’s brothers and groomsmen. Our families sent off fireworks from the beach across the street!

There is a poetic line in Luke’s Gospel that has often struck me in times of great joy: “And Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Our wedding day was filled with graces and moments of true joy that, like Mary, I have treasured in my heart.

We not only felt the peace that comes from fulfilling the vocation God had in mind for us; we also felt a taste of that heavenly wedding feast where love and joy have the final word over sin and death.

To feel the support of so many incredible people, including those loved ones who joined us only through the mystical communion of the Eucharist, was a reminder of the abundant and gratuitous love God has for each of us. Since John and had dated for over five years and been engaged for two, there was no doubt remaining about the call to love and devote ourselves to each other’s spiritual and physical well being that God placed on our hearts.

When I said my vows out loud, it felt as natural as the sun rising each morning.

It was just a day, but also a sacrament that has given us the strength to live every day after, for the rest of our lives, in fidelity and selflessness. That doesn’t mean that now we bend over backwards to empty the trash or fold the laundry, but there is a grace through the sacrament to face this crazy world as a team, bound together.

The image of the Holy Family which now hangs in our bedroom reflects the truth that God uses the family to bring about salvation. That it is through the sacrifices we make within that unit, and together as a unit for the outside world, that God’s mercy is shown. The sacrament of marriage, and the graces that come from responding to the call God places deep in our hearts, fill us with joy and strength to be images of that mercy.

Through prayer we continue to discover the beauty of our vocation to love each other for life, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, and for better or for worse.

Photography: Julie Holmes Photography http://www.julieholmesphotography.com | Church: Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Cathedral, Biloxi, MS https://nativitybvmcathedral.org | Wedding Reception Venue : Biloxi Visitors Center, Biloxi, MS, https://www.biloxi.ms.us/visitor-info/museums/visitors-center/ | Liturgical Music: Jacqueline Coale and Terry Maddox | Reception Band: Dr. Jazz and the New Orleans Sound http://www.drjazzmusic.com  | Flowers, Catering & Wedding Coordination: Fountain Events http://www.chezcharlesevents.com | Cakes: Torta Dulce Bakery http://www.tortadolcecakesandmore.com/ | Makeup: Ashley Mills http://www.makeupbyashleymills.com | Hair: Salon Rouge https://www.salonrouge-ms.com | Dress: Marie Gabriel Couture https://mariegabrielcouture.com | Bridesmaid dresses: Bella Bridesmaids https://www.bellabridesmaids.com | Suits: Studio Suits https://www.studiosuits.com  | Bridesmaid shirts: Lettermix Studio on Etsy https://www.etsy.com/shop/LettermixStudio | Rings: Windsor Jewelry https://windsorjewelry.com | Invitations: Minted https://www.minted.com

Erica + Chris | Romantic Blush + Gold Wedding

Erica + Chris | Romantic Blush + Gold Wedding

She met Chris at a Theology on Tap to exchange the papers, after which Chris invited the entire group out to karaoke and sang Michael Buble's "Just Haven't Met You Yet" that very night. Erica found out from a friend that Chris had asked if Erica was single, and two days later he called, saying, "I would like to be in your presence again."

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